Introduction and First Impressions

How good are these $40 over-ear monitors?

Edifier might not be a household name, but the maker of speakers and headphones has been around for 20 years now; formed in 1996 in Beijing, China. More recently (2011), Edifier made news by purchasing Stax, the famous Japanese electrostatic headphone maker. This move was made to 'improve Edifier's position' in the headphone market, and with the Stax name attached it could only raise awareness for the brand in the high-end audio community.

But Edifier does not play in the same market as Stax, whose least expensive current offering (the SR-003MK2) is still $350. Edifier's products range from earbuds starting at $19 (the H210) to their larger over-ear headphones (H850) at $79. In between rests the smaller over-ear H840, a closed-back monitor headphone 'tuned by Phil Jones of Pure Sound' that Edifier claims offers a 'natural' audio experience. The price? MSRP is $59.99 but Edifier sells the H840 for only $39.99 on Amazon.

"Developed with an electro-acoustic unit on the basis of the coil, these Hi-Fi headphones provide life like sound. The carefully calibrated balance between treble and bass makes Edifier H840 the perfect entry level monitor earphones."

At the price, these could be a compelling option for music, movies, and gaming – depending on how they sound. In this review I'll attempt to describe my experience with these headphones, as well as one can using text. (I will also attempt not to write a book in the process!)

Before continuing, here's a look at the technical specifications:

H840 Specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz 
  • Impedance: 32 Ω 
  • Sound Pressure Level: 90 dB 
  • Driver Diameter: 40 mm
  • Cable Length: 2.0 m (6.56 ft)
  • Connector: 3.5 mm 
  • Connector Type: Straight 
  • Inline Control: No
  • Weight: 0.2 kg (7.05 oz)

Our thanks to Edifier for providing the H840 headphones for our review.

Design and Build Quality

Looking over the headphones it becomes apparent that the H840 is a budget model, as the design is rather plain – along the lines of some similarly-priced Sony headphones. This isn't a bad thing at all, and I rather like the understated look with a matte black finish (the H840 is also available in dark blue). The headphones are also very light, weighing just about 7 oz.

The headband has minimal padding, but this shouldn't be an issue given the light weight. Adjustment feels very solid, with each click settling the headband firmly into position. It feels a little stiff, but the added effort in adjusting the band does result in a secure setting that will stay that way until you adjust it again.

Ear cups rotate in a few degrees, and outward a full 90 degrees, which allows them to lay completely flat. The cups can also tilt down a bit, further enhancing fit. As to the comfort of these cups, they are a bit on the small side, but still fit over my ears. The cushions are reasonably soft, and clamping force is average. I didn't find them uncomfortable, but this is a matter of personal preference.

The movement of the cups is smooth, and feels solid enough (especially at this price). I don't know if these would stand up to much abuse, but they seem solid enough after having them around the house for a couple of months now. You could probably throw them in your bag without worry, but I wouldn't want to accidentally sit on them.

The cord is long (6.5 feet), quite flexible, and has a soft feel to it. It is a little on the thin side; feeling more like a thicker earbud cable than a headphone cable. This probably has no affect on sound quality, but could affect durability (though my Koss Porta Pro headphones have a thinner cable and are still kicking after several years).

Overall I felt good about the construction considering the price of the headphones. If these had been $100 I wouldn't feel that way, but they cost less than half of that. What matters to me is how they sound, and we'll take a look at that on the next page.

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